05 Best Beginner Bouldering Shoes | Detailed Review & Buying Guide

"For most beginners, bouldering is the ultimate way to get started at climbing!"

You can either choose to stay indoors at the gym or explore smaller rock formations outside. This form of climbing requires minimal gears. But can you really do without a proper climbing shoe?

Here’s a list of the best bouldering shoes for beginners like you! These shoes are carefully analyzed and chosen specifically for comfort and durability in the initial stage before you start sending more difficult bouldering problems.

Before you decide to make an upgrade and move to a more intermediate stage, these shoes would help you to learn the techniques and develop a climbing habit!

Here you go!

Top 5 Bouldering shoes for beginners

five ten anasazi moccasym
Top Pick
5/5
Upper: Split-Grain Leather
Closure: Slip-On
Outsole: Stealth C4 rubber
La Sportiva TarantuLace
Most Comfortable Shoe
4/5
Upper: Leather
Closure: Lace
Outsole: 5 mm FriXion RS
Scarpa Helix
Best Performance Shoe
4/5
Upper: Suede leather
Closure: Lace-Up
Outsole: 3.5mm Vibram XS
La Sportiva Mythos
Best For Women Bouldering
4.5/5
Upper: Suede leather
Closure: Lace-up
Outsole: 4mm Vibram® XS Grip
Climb X Rave Strap
Best Value
4/5
Upper: Suede leather
Closure: Velcro
Outsole: Climb X X-Factor Rubber

Five Ten Anasazi Moccasym

Our Top Pick

When world famous climbers like Chris Sharma and others wear a Five Ten Men shoe, it’s needless to say that it’s one of the best in the game. It’s extremely easy to put on and works well for newbies and intermediate boulderers as well.

The shoe holds pretty well on cracks and small footholds. It has a flat sole that increases your performance on slabs. However, It’s not really made for difficult overhung routes and precise edging. For beginners, that’s not a big deal..

PROS

CONS

It’s an elastic shoe, which means no laces or velcros. So, you need to get the size right. For bouldering, half a size down will be perfect for most people. Otherwise, you will end up with loose shoes that will make it hard for you to tackle small footholds.

Yes, these shoes don’t offer the maximum support. But that’s needed to develop muscle strength and learn techniques when starting out.

Overall, it’s a great shoe providing overall value for boulderers of varied skills and experience!

La Sportiva TarantuLace

Most Comfortable Shoe

The La Sportiva Tarantulace is specifically made for amateur climbers and it’s one of the best beginner bouldering shoes in terms of comfort. The sole is flat with a little bit of downturn, making it usable on slightly more difficult terrains.

The rubber is on the stiffer side with 5 mm thickness and rounded edge. You might not get the precision and grip required for performance but you can wear them all day long with no issues.

PROS

CONS

It’s a lined leather, so a half size smaller should give you snug fit after the break-in period. It will support boulder problems up to V2 and multi-pitch terrains with moderate difficulty.

We loved the overall feel and comfort of these shoes. Yes, you won’t find superior support on overhangs but still for entry-level boulderers, these shoes meet the basic requirements and come in an affordable price range.

This gives you the opportunity to upgrade to a more aggressive shoe in a few months’ time when you want to explore more technical terrains and boulder problems.

Scarpa Helix

Best Performance Shoe

Beginners looking to get started at outdoor bouldering, the Scarpa Helix is just perfect for you! It has been designed to meet both beginner and intermediate climber’s needs.

It’s basically a flat shoe made for comfort. Even so, the rubber sole offers good sensitivity on the rock and you can feel the edges and narrow footholds better. The addition of a padded tongue increases the comfort level.

PROS

CONS

At the heel section, there’s a soft chamois that will support your heels. You can expect the shoes to grip quite well without sacrificing durability.

The upper has been crafted from lined leather. But analyzing the dimensions of these shoes, we found that a half size down should give you a snug fit later. The good news is, Scarpa Helix has a women’s version. Usually, one full size down is the perfect fit for ladies.

Overall, we think Scarpa Helix can be a great first time shoe for a boulderer and can help you easily transition to intermediate level. You might not have a high end precision with these, but that’s not particularly necessary at this stage.

La Sportiva Mythos Lace-Up
(women version)

Best For Women Bouldering

Finding a good shoe for bouldering is tough, especially if you are a woman. These are the best women’s bouldering shoes, particularly for bouldering problems within the V4 range.

La Sportiva Mythos is particularly known for its comfort and durability. You can easily do 6-12 months without a resole. The rubber allows you to perform well on cracks and on different kinds of terrains. It won’t give you superior support on smaller footholds but you really can’t complain as this is an entry level shoe.

PROS

CONS

The best thing is the lacing system. The toe to ankle lace up helps to gain proper fit. So, even if you have a wider toe box, it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Generally, a half size down would be enough.

The shoes have a round design all around. This gives more surface area around the toe box for climbing slabs. It’s a bit on the expensive side. But that won’t stop you from buying this amazing shoe dedicated to women boulderers.

Climb X Rave Strap

Best Value

The Climb X Rave Strap is the ideal beginner indoor bouldering shoes! If you want shoes that will hold up to everyday climbing and give you room to strengthen your muscles, then this is it!

Although it’s a flat profiled shoe, it does have a bit of a downturn. Anything from VB to V3 should be easily doable with these. However, you can still hit the V4 and V5 mark without much problems.

You can tackle smaller footholds and feel comfortable all day long. These shoes aren’t designed for sensitivity and for novice climbers, that’s a luxury.

PROS

CONS

The best part is Climb X Rave comes pre-downsized. So, either your present street size or a size up should offer a snug fit. It has dual lace straps for quick put on and off with moderate adjustment opportunity.

Some shoes can get really nasty. But not with these, as there’s a hemp bedding that limits odor from building up.

All in all, it’s a shoe dedicated to gym boulderers and beginner outdoor boulderers who wants to keep practicing in the most affordable way.

Beginner Bouldering Shoes
Buying Guide

1. Downturn: Aggressive Vs. Flat

When beginners look for bouldering/climbing shoes, they often screw their head over what kind of downturn to go with.

Yes, it’s important though. A shoe with more aggressive downturn and curve, makes edging and hooking a lot more easier. Sending your problems should be a decisive factor… but… only when you have some practice and experience under your belt.

Aggressive shoes fit tighter and you have to compromise a bit on the comfort part. Depending on whether you want to stick with gym bouldering or move outsides, your decision will vary.

For starters, a flat profile works better!

2. Stretch Factor

You might have heard that bouldering shoes stretch. It depends on the material of the upper.

Leathers usually stretch from half to full size depending on whether it’s lined or unlined. An unlined leather will stretch more, so you have to buy a size larger than your usual street size.

If that’s a problem for you, you can get synthetic shoes. They won’t stretch much and give you a proper fit from the first day.

Overall, if you are willing to bear the pain for the stretch out period, leather is the best option.

3. Closure System

You got three kinds of closure system: Lace, velcro and elastic.

For beginners, veclro is the best option. Why? Because you might need to undo your shoes a lot of the time, in between problems. There are different versions of velcro, some that have two straps and some might have 3 straps offering a more customized fit.

Lace is an all time favorite for climbers of all difficulty levels. You can tie it as you want to match your fit. But tying and untying kills is the major problem.

Elastics offer the same advantage as velcros. But not efficient in the long run.

4. Softness and Stiffness

Choosing between a soft and stiff shoe is a matter of debate! There’s no single way to present it.

However, beginner boulderers can enjoy the stability and edging of stiffer shoes. If you want your shoes to last longer and get more sensitivity, softer shoes are preferable.

To get the best of both, a midsole with moderate stiffness should be enough for bouldering outsides and even at the gym.

5. Properties of the Rubber

Boulderers starting out outdoors would definitely gain advantage from thicker rubber. These rubbers range from 4-5.5 mm. The advantage is better grip and durability.

If you want to smear on slabs, you can buy thinner shoes in the 3-4mm range. But we don’t recommend this. As a newbie, you want your shoes to last at least a couple of months.

6. Price Consideration

At V0 and VB bouldering problems, you can get away with a cheaper shoe that’s designed for comfort.

But as you keep exploring more difficult bouldering problems that have more overhangs and steep routes, you can shift to more expensive shoes.

If outdoor bouldering is your top priority, buy a shoe that can offer medium performance as well as comfort.

7. Price Factor: Keep it Low

The upfront costs of rock climbing is huge!! For gym climbing, you will need at least $200 dollars with recurring monthly costs in chalk and gym membership. When outdoor climbing, the cost increases further with addition of rope, crash pad, etc.

The last thing you want is an expensive climbing shoe and you are using only half or less of its potential.

As a beginner, you don’t need a super aggressive downturn, powerful rand or precise edging. You will need them at some point but by that time your shoes will wear out and need change. Invest more in the second shoe.

For now, an affordable and midrange priced shoe should be more than perfect.

8. Advanced Vs. Beginner Climbing Shoes

Advanced climbing shoes are built to support precision and performance. We have included a few models in this review like the La Sportiva Mythos and La Sportiva Tarantulace.

These shoes are inclined a little towards performance. If you are one of those few climbers who have a huge passion and are willing to learn quickly to get beyond the gym walls, then go ahead buy these ones.

Otherwise, beginners who want to take time and learn slowly, a good time to upgrade is when you start to feel that you have reached your shoe’s limit. Until then most shoes in this list will do a great job for you.

FAQ

Most Frequent Questions of Boulderers

If you are buying leather shoes for bouldering, a half size to full size smaller shoe is preferable. Usually, a moderately tighter fit is suitable for bouldering.

Bouldering shoes aren’t quite different from general climbing shoes. But, for bouldering, you can skip sensitive and aggressive downturned shoes and still do quite good.

Bouldering shoes must be comfortable, have a slightly tighter fit, hold up well on narrow footholds and are durable enough to keep you going. Our buying guide talks in detail on this matter.

The features of both the shoes remain quite the same. The only difference is in the size.

Final words....

If you are at the end of this post, we’re sure you have decided on a particular bouldering shoe! For overall value in terms of price, performance, comfort and stability, the Five Ten Men’s Anasazi Moccasym is the ultimate option. Depending on the nature of your problems, any of the shoes from this list are perfect for newbie boulderers.

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